There’s been a lot of negative perception about violence in video games in recent years that’s contributed to games getting a bad rap among certain overly sensitive groups. Sure some games might take it a little further than others, but in reality it’s just a sequence of 0’s and 1’s interacting on screen. Nothing to freak out about here. But the stigma remains in certain cases. Truth be told, death is a big part of most games. It can be used as a narrative device or as a consequence of failing to do something properly. Without death, most games would be pretty bland. That being said, some games go above and beyond with their depictions of it.
Decapitations, disemboweling and savage beatings are just some of the grotesque ways in which video game characters meet their deaths. This is no Super Mario fall to the ground and respawn in the blink of an eye type stuff, these deaths are serious. Sometimes you’ll find that these means of premature exodus fit in perfectly with the atmosphere of the game you’re playing, and other times it might come out of nowhere. But regardless, these types of deaths often have an impact on the player – be it momentary or long-term. These are the top 15 most gruesome deaths in gaming. Enjoy.
Just to be sure here, this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS so be sure to watch out for that.
2013’s Tomb Raider reboot gave the series a breath of fresh air, bringing the action-adventure franchise back into the spotlight. The game featured a reinvented Lara Croft as fans played as a more vulnerable, inexperienced version of the iconic character. Some of that inexperience comes into play during deaths scenes found in the game. Aside from trigger-happy bad guys and wild animals on the prowl, the environment itself serves as just as great a danger to Lara on her journey. One of the most shocking death scenes in the game occurs should the player fail to maneuver Lara out of the way of incoming debris. This triggers a short cut scene where Lara is impaled right through her throat, be it by a branch, pipe or whatever other wreckage is lying around – depending on the environment.
Dishonored is one of the best stealth games to come out in the last ten years. While the game does offer the player the option to clear it pacifistically, it also features a plethora of creative and gruesome ways to take out your opponents. One of those is the “Devouring Swarm” ability. Dishonored’s city of Dunwall is plagued with disease infected rats, a terrible burden to its citizens but something the player can very much use to their advantage. The ability allows the player to set a horde of these rats on a live target. The rest is pretty self-explanatory as the rats lock on to their prey and devour them alive, consuming most of their remains in the process.
What you see is what you get with 2010’s Splatterhouse. The game is a complete gorefest that pulls no punches when it comes to the ultra-violent. The hack and slash title offers drones of enemies to brutally rip through, with each kill seemingly fiercer than the last. However there’s one enemy that gets it worse than all the others. Beasts look like a deformed cross between man and ape with no eyes and blunt features. When performing a 'splatterkill,' Beasts receive the worst death in the entire game. Their heads are smashed into the ground multiple times after which their intestines are pulled out from their rectums. The things might be monsters, but no one deserves that.
BioShock had one of the craziest plot twists in gaming history that still holds water to this day. Incidentally, our next gruesome death happens to tie into that event. Andrew Ryan is the founder of BioShock’s Rapture and one of the main antagonists of the game. When finally face to face with main character Jack, Ryan delivers a long winded speech about choice and in the process reveals that Jack’s actually been doing things against his will the entire time. What’s even more bizarre is that Ryan allows Jack to carry out his orders to kill him, being bludgeoned to death with his own golf club. Ultimately the guy ended up letting himself die, just to prove a point.
Dead Rising features a plethora of undead enemies that players are meant to mindlessly cut through. There are plenty of weapons and means in which to dispose of enemies, but chopping down mobs of reanimated corpses doesn’t have much of an impact. Why? Well they’re dead anyway, so who cares what you do to them now, right? Most of them have probably seen worse. However, it does say a lot when in a game filled with zombies the most polarizing death is that of a human. Adam the Clown isn’t your typical straggler looking to survive the zombie apocalypse. He’s friggin’ insane. After the inevitable boss fight, Adam – rather than admit defeat – takes his own life. He does it by falling onto his two chainsaws, mercilessly tearing apart his stomach while laughing hysterically till his last breath.
The Gears of War series features a number of gory kills and deaths. One of the most depressing of these is the death of Ben Carmine. Though not a major player in the Gears series, Carmine was a lovable member of the team who certainly didn’t get what was coming to him. After falling into a Riftworm’s mouth, Carmine was dragged across the acidic spikes of the creature’s stomach, corroding flesh around his chest and leaving him to die slowly from the wound. By the time his comrades had found him, Ben looked like something had taken a huge bite out of him. The injuries were so severe that they greatly altered his ability to speak – making delivering his dying words difficult.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Danganronpa series, it’s kind of like a mixture of the Ace Attorney series and Battle Royale. The basic premise of the first game is this; 15 students, each embodying a specific talent or ideal, are trapped and forced to live within their school by a monochromatic bear named Monokuma. However there’s a catch; one student can escape captivity if they successfully manage to kill one of their fellow students and get away with it during the aptly named class trial. Failure to do so however leads to an immediate – and often morbid and ironic – execution. And so we look at Leon Kuwata, “The Ultimate Baseball Star.” After failing to punch in his get out of jail free card, Leon is dragged into a prison-like batting cage where he is bound to a pole and rendered unable to move. Leon is then assaulted by a pitching machine, shooting a myriad of baseballs at him at incredible speeds from every direction – covering every inch of his body. The death is pretty brutal as anyone who’s ever been hit by a baseball can attest that it hurts like hell.
Adam Shepherd is not the ideal father. Anyone who mentally abuses, ignores and refuses to get attached to their child is definitely in the running for worst father of the year. But even this S.O.B. didn’t deserve what he got. Towards the end of the Silent Hill: Homecoming, Adam is found by his son Alex, strapped to two columns. As he apologizes for being such a terrible father, Adam is confronted by Pyramid Head. In an instant, he is split in half by the creature’s great knife. The scene doesn’t explicitly show the death, but the sounds, look on Alex’s face and the morbid looking remains, painting a clear and disturbing picture.
We’re entering extremely weird territory here, as we approach one of the more surreal deaths on the list. Wolfenstein: The New Order showcased one of gaming’s most cringe worthy death scenes, simultaneously serving as one of the most shocking moments in the series while mitigating that nagging fear you have whenever you go to the doctor for a checkup. Depending on who the player chooses, this nightmarish interaction can be directed towards either Fergus Reid or Probst Wyatt. Regardless of their choice, the affected party is dissected while alive. Painful deep incisions are made along the back of their bodies until eventually the brain is extracted from the skull – reducing either Wyatt or Reid to a limp corpse.
The Corpse Party series isn’t the most graphically stunning. Based on a remake of an RPG Maker game, Corpse Party relies on leaving much up to the player’s imagination instead of presenting it to them point blank. The game relies on incredibly detailed descriptions to drive home most of the death and terror found throughout the game. The most terrifying death being that of one of the game's non-playable characters – Mayu. Kind to a fault, Mayu is seemingly unfazed by the transdimensional, decrepit haunted elementary school she and her friends find themselves trapped in. She actually tries to befriend the vengeful spirits that haunt the halls. This proves to be a fatal bit of naiveté as not long after she makes contact with them, the spirits lift Mayu and violently drag her through the schools halls – slamming her so hard against the wall that she is reduced to an unrecognizable pulp of flesh and viscera.
The Dead Space series offers players a plethora of weird ways to die within its sci-fi horror confines. But the most skin crawling of them all is definitely in Dead Space 2. The scene is triggered when Isaac Clarke enters a diagnostic machine with a pretty fatal flaw built into it. After strapping in, Isaac must align his pupil with the machine’s laser – all while a needle slowly drops from above his eye. If Isaac can manage to align the laser and his pupil for the appropriate amount of time, then no problem. But should he fail, things take a turn for the worse. The machine malfunctions and steadily pushes through Isaac’s eye into his brain – going deeper and deeper into the skull.
The God of War franchise is so incredibly brutal that it’d be strange not to include at least one death scene on this list. As one of the strongest characters in the series, Helios was no easy target to take down. You wouldn’t image something as perpetual as a God to actually die, especially in gruesome fashion. But leave it to Kratos to make that kind of thing routine. Among all the deaths Kratos is responsible for, Helios’ is perhaps one of the most disturbing. After pummeling him to the point that he can no longer defend himself, Kratos then makes a grab for Helios’ head and begins to pull at it. The result is the former slowly and painfully ripping the latter’s head off of his body. Forget being a God, that’s just overkill.
The Resident Evil series is one of the most influential survival horror series in game history. While recent entries have been scrutinized, the initial games paved the way for the survival horror genre in a big way. Throughout the series there are a ton of gruesome deaths coupled with your average jump scare here and there. But nothing quite meshes the two quite like this death in Resident Evil 4. When facing off against The Chainsaw Man, Leon Kennedy can be on the receiving end of a pretty painful exodus. Should the enemy get too close, it automatically cuts Leon’s head off, decapitating him in just a few seconds. While the death scene itself isn’t very stretched out, it still packs a punch and stays on point.
Ah yes, what would a list about gruesome, gory deaths be without at least a mention of the Mortal Kombat franchise. The series has been around for decades, wowing players with its humorous, stylized approach to death. Known as “Fatalities” these allow players to execute their opponents with both brutal strength and finesse. While there are plenty of games and fatalities to choose from, let’s go with the most recent addition to the series, Mortal Kombat X. Particularly, let’s look at series mainstay Sub-Zero’s “Chest Kold” fatality. The fatality involves Sub-Zero freezing his enemy’s chest, destroying the flesh covering the area. The victim’s spine is then made visible as Sub-Zero grabs it, lifting them in the air and pulling at it until they’ve been split in two. This is all while the other fighter is still alive mind you. Terrifying stuff.
If the Manhunt series will be remembered for anything, it’s the incredibly graphic and taboo content of its games. The sole focus of both games is to kill enemies in as horrific and eye-opening ways as possible. This could range from a number of techniques, be it asphyxiation via a plastic bag or sawing someone’s head open. There are actually a decent amount of creative ways to go about and take out your targets. But the most terrifying of all of them has to be Manhunt 2’s dentist chair execution. The victim is thrown onto a dentist chair, punched in the face and then has their right and left hands impaled with metal spikes – rendering them immobile. The victim then has their head impaled with a dentist’s drill and slowly dies as the drill turns over and over again. The demented tune playing in the background only amplifies the insanity of it all.